Culinary Arts

A Market Fresh Dinner: Planning and Prep

Alice Waters

Lesson time 23:58 min

Quality time with your guests is just as important as making a quality meal. Learn how to think in three courses and time each step of your cooking for a delicious menu that allows you time to enjoy the party.

Alice Waters
Teaches The Art of Home Cooking
In 16+ lessons, learn to cook beautiful, seasonal meals at home from the James Beard Award-winning founder of Chez Panisse.
Get All-Access


I usually think of menus in three courses-- a salad, a main dish, and a sweet end. I'm also wanting to contrast the textures, and the color, and the temperature on the plates. Menus like this are perfect for entertainment, because so much of the preparation can be done ahead of time. - When I'm thinking about a menu, and I'm having people over to dinner, it's really important that I'm not doing very much at the last minute. And my plan is to serve them, when they just come, some almonds and some olives. And I'm going to roast the almonds in the oven. And I'm going to saute the olives on the stove with some lemon and oil just to flavor them a little bit. I'm going to grill chicken over the fire, and serve it with these potatoes, which I'm going to grill as well. I'm going to parboil them here. And then I'm going to cook them on the grill. This fruit compote that I want to make for you is one that could sit in the refrigerator for an hour or two. But I don't want to have to worry about-- about last minute preparation-- just about the one thing that I might really have to concentrate on. I mean, it really works successfully to have only one thing hot that you have to think about. And, of course, it's more time to be with your friends. I want to season my chicken, because the longer that it-- has salt, the more flavor it has. And I'm going to season it with some thyme and salt and pepper. I took the chicken breasts off of the chicken. I'm going to make stock with the other part, and use the legs to make something with as well. But the breasts are rather large. I think that this will be enough for four people. So I'm going to sprinkle it rather liberally with some chopped thyme, and then really liberally with the salt. I put a little olive oil on it, too, and I set it aside. If it's not very long before dinner begins, I'll just leave it out at room temperature-- maybe an hour or two. Because it's great to have it at room temperature before you're grilling. But if it's longer than that, I would put it in the refrigerator, and take it out an hour or so before you're going to cook it. All set. And I always wash my hands after I touch-- touch the chicken. I'm going to start the potatoes in cold water. They don't break up so easily that way. Little bit more salt water, kind of liberally. And while they're cooking I'm going to teach you about aioli. I'm going to make an aioli. And this is the most basic, delicious sauce of . It's with garlic paste, and really good olive oil, with salt. And you can put all different kinds of flavorings in. I mean, you could make it a green sauce with garlic. Actually, you could leave the garlic out, and just have a really tasty mayonnaise with lemon in it. To make this emulsion, it takes an egg that's at room temperature. It's very critical. Sometimes, when I want to make an aioli right at the moment, and I have cold eggs in the refrigerator, I'll pour hot water over the egg...

Farm-to-table cooking

Alice Waters started America’s farm-to-table revolution. When she founded the iconic restaurant Chez Panisse, her local, organic ingredients sparked a movement and earned her the James Beard Award for Outstanding Chef. In her first-ever online cooking class, Alice opens the doors of her home kitchen to teach you how to pick seasonal ingredients, create healthy and beautiful meals, and change your life by changing the food you make at home.


Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars.

Alice's series has really made me appreciate food and farming and how important it is to support our local farms and stores. She brought a new joy for me in cooking!

I can´t cook to save my life, but I thoroughly enjoyed this course.

These classes help me understand a bit more how I communicate love for friends and family. This course specifically was s at embodying that as a core message. Cooking for family and friends is an incredibly fulfilling thing. Thank you for this class!

This class was inspiring! I learned so much about techniques and ingredients, but the focus on eating seasonal was most interesting to me. Alice's style is very approachable and familiar. I wish I could take her to the farmers market with me!


Chris and Scarlett F.

Now known as Alice's olives - these are a favourite with friends and family. Who knew that warming olives before serving them would make such a difference!


It drives me nuts when I see chefs taste something and then put the spoon back in the mix. It's fine if only they are eating it. But don't share your germs if you're serving the food to others.


This was one of my favorite lessons. I use it a lot as a reference to get core ingredients/preparation done now. Alice is an wonderful person, and an incredible teacher. Thank you so much!

Zenna Y.

I remember it's not really good to eat raw egg. Is that a specific egg? If yes, does anyone know what's the name of it?

Josianne B.

Cooking that is so simple and delicious. I just wish Alice wouldn't taste and dip the spoon back in the dish!

Sharon F.

Such a lovely "clean" meal where all the flavors should sign through. I love it.

Meg N.

A very lovely meal, care taken with each dish but not to the point of being over-worked. I'm going to consider parts of this in my summer-to-autumn meals. My attention to food is basically Western, but influenced by where I'm living (Japan). Alice Waters' degree of work on each raw material fits in nicely with many of the dishes here (as far as I know, having taken cooking lessons from 'ryotei' chefs in the Osaka area decades ago.) I was struck by Alice Waters' use of salt - having had MD's advice to eliminate nearly all salt from my diet, which I think may have been based on assumptions that would not hold for someone whose main diet is home-cooked. Home-cooked means I have control, particularly with the timing of when the salt is added, resulting in a fairly low starting point for the amount of salt in my diet before he started giving that advice. I think it would be interesting to calculate exactly how much salt ends up in what is served, and the sodium/potassium balance with the fresh vegetables and fruit, before being seriously concerned about her use of salt.


I'm not a fan of green olives... but those looked utterly delicious, as did the almonds. I feel the need to throw a party just so I can serve both of them! And I agree with Mike - making a bright yellow mayo by hand is fine, but there's plenty of homemade mayos that are white, and doing it with my immersion blender (or even my mini food processor) is so much faster and easier! (Though I bet Alice's clean-up is probably faster than mine....)


The aioli was very well done. It's so easy to make it that way and I'm glad she showed that. What a gorgeous yellow color from that beautiful fresh egg yolk. Pears are my favorite fruit. I have to say those are the most beautiful raspberries so fresh and robust. I love to make jam and this dessert idea is going in my recipe file. I also loved the rosemary in the almonds. It must have been so fragrant.


There are plenty of good homemade mayo recipes that produce a white mayo. For example, Hester Blumenthal’s which uses grapeseed oil and whole eggs. It’s delicious. Some people may find olive oil in a mayo overpowering. And making mayo by hand makes it way more involved than it has to be. A stick blender will emulsify your mayo ingredients in 20 seconds or less. I feel just as accomplished.